Joan Rivers said “He’s a - - - - ing star! I love him!”
Endorsements like that are pretty awesome. Who wouldn’t plaster it in Second Coming type over the top of the poster!
He's at the Harold Park Hotel at Glebe until May 10.
At 15 Joel Creasey realised he was a comedian and gay. Two landmarks. It was a momentous year which fell sort of flat when he got paid nothing for his first gig . . . and the Big Announcement to his parents was followed by “So, what’s for dinner?”
He’s now 23 and things have been looking up. He gets paid to do gags . . . and he gets regular gay-hate mail.
His family were, disappointingly, totally cool with his sexuality. So were all his friends. His teachers and headmaster, not so very. So he’s ignored requests to be paraded at his alma mater now he’s a star. And he is a star. Joan Rivers says so.
His anti-gay critics merely provide a butt for his jokes. And in return he sends them selfies. “Yeah, I'm very good like that. I’m very mature, I'm very high-brow.”
Mentor Joan Rivers would be proud.
After Rivers saw his act she booked him to open for her in New York. “Isn’t he terrific?! Isn’t he great?! Now get off, it’s my turn,” she said each night.
He got off and hasn’t looked back. He’s touring Joel Creasey Rock God in Sydney right now. Perth in June.
❏ When you were in Brisbane you said Sydney and Melbourne audiences were spoiled and uptight. Now you're in Sydney do you want to revise that?
No, I stand by it. I mean, not all of them are but they’re a lot tougher and I have to work a lot harder. Luckily I’ve been to Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne already with this show so I'm feeling match-fit and ready for a challenge.
Do you feel good the moment you walk on stage or does it take a while to find your feet?
At my solo shows I feel good, you know. When the audience have come to see me and my show I feel good before I even walk out. But if I'm in a show with other comedians, something like I did in Capella in Queensland last year, it takes me a while to feel comfortable and sometimes I never do. But normally once you've got the first show under your belt and your first laughs come in, you're rolling.
Does it help the show if you’re a little on edge?
Absolutely. Nerves and all that help the show. I like there to be lots of laughs a minute.. And I like to get my first joke out immediately. I hate any dead air. Also ’cos I'm quite young and some in the audience haven’t heard of me before I have to prove myself immediately, just to relax the crowd. I have to do that, just to show them “Don’t worry, I know what I'm doing, you'll be all right”.
How careful do you have to be when picking on people in the audience?
I don't massively talk to the audience because I've got a lot to get through. In my current show I chat to them a bit. I ask a question about who's the most famous person they've met and I say I’m gonna pick on the famous person, I'm not gonna pick on you. But if it's a heckler they're fair game. They've interrupted your show and all bets are off the table!
I love the story of how you offered to send a hater to Uganda!
Yeah, this guy said he’d never had a problem with gays until he saw my spot! He said he was moving to Uganda because they kill gays there. I sent him back flight details. And a selfie. Yeah, I'm very good at that. I'm very mature, I'm very high-brow. If they say one thing to me I come back with another. The other night I had some people heckling down the front. They were saying nice things but they were being quite irritating. That's actually much harder. I would’ve rather them be really rude to me than be polite and friendly. How do I respond to that?!
When you were growing up and developing as a comic what were your targets? Who was easy to send up?
My parents, absolutely. The thing with them is they’re very funny themselves so they could dish it back. That was really fun. Especially my mum. She’s very funny. I talk about her in my act. She's got a wicked sense of humour and she’d send me up. Also my teachers. I used to do very good impressions of teachers behind their backs for the rest of the class. That was how I made friends. I did a very good impression of my grade 10 accounting teacher. That was my piece de resistance for a while.
I used to do very good impressions of teachers behind their backs for the rest of the class. That was how I made friends.
How old were you when you decided I'm gonna make this my job?
Well, 15 was when I decided I'd have a crack at it. But I'd watched comedy at the Comedy Festival Gala every year from when I was 10. But it was like 17, I was in grade 12, I was over studying and I thought what's something you don't have to study for? And that's when I entered a comedy competition at the end of grade 12 and it all rolled from there. The first month I was out of school I entered a competition and haven't really stopped since.
What did you get paid for your first gig?
Nothing. The first pay cheque I ever got was $50, for a gig I did at the Comic Lounge in Perth. I kept the cheque. I never actually banked it. It was very tempting at times when I first moved to Melbourne and wasn’t earning any money doing standup but I kept the cheque. No idea where it is now but it's floating round somewhere.
How old were you when you realised you were gay?
The same age, 15. It was a bit of a revelation for me. Then I wasn't sure. It was like 16, the end of 16, when I came out. A nice example of where I think we are as a society. It was 2007. I never really had any major problems which is going to make a very boring story when I do my sit-down interview with Oprah. I just came to the conclusion on my own and I didn't really have a problem with it. Neither did most anyone else. It was quite, quite reassuring. Interestingly enough it was more the teachers.
What was their problem?
It was crazy. They were actually looking for there to be a problem. But there never was. A few of them kind of acted more strange to me than any student ever did.
In what way?
Um, there were quite a few teachers that were suddenly very, um. When I came out I also really found myself. I mean I started speaking up for myself, whether it be a student talking to me strangely or a teacher. There was a point when I was 16 at school and I went “Hold on!” Just ’cos they're a teacher, if they're treating you awfully at the end of the day they're just another human same as you. So I started mucking up a bit. Oddly enough the headmaster was always a bit strange to me, standoffish, all a bit messy, just one of those things. The school’s asked me a few times to go back and talk and I just have nil interest after all that.
What sort of language did you use when you told your Mum and Dad you were gay and how did you make it clear it wasn’t a joke?
[Laughs] Um, yeah! I just sort of sat them down and told them and it was very brief. I didn't have like a dance number prepared. I wish I had, to drive the message home. They were so fine with it. My Dad was like "Yeah, cool. So, what’s for dinner?" Mum said “I thought you'd be a great father” and I said “Yeah, I still can be” and ever since it's just been really great. To the point where I was telling a friend the other day, you know, gay guys like calling other guys “she” and my Dad started doing that! I mentioned something about my best mate Tom to my Dad and he said “Oh, how is she?” I’m a very proud son right now.
I sat my parents down and told them I was gay. I didn't have like a dance number prepared. They were so fine with it. My Dad was like 'Yeah, cool. So, what’s for dinner?'
Who are your favourite targets? Politicians? Ordinary people? Friends?
At the moment Tony Abbott is just, you know, a goldmine. He's become so pathetic and ridiculous every comic's targeting him. So there's not a lot of material left in Tony, although he does keep delivering so it's not like we're going to run out. At the moment The Real Housewives of Melbourne [on Foxtel] are a lot of fun. They're supplying a lot of entertainment. Of course, there's still my Mum and a few of my friends pop up in this show. Everyone’s fair game, no matter who they are. Everybody’s up for grabs.
At the moment Tony Abbott is a goldmine. He's become so pathetic and ridiculous every comic's targeting him. He keeps delivering so it's not like we're going to run out of material.
You've got a reputation for being a bit of a bitch.
[Laughs] I do, I do.
Can you be a humane bitch in your business?
I think so. Well, I like to think I take from the rich and give to the poor. They've gotta do something to deserve it. I'm not going to slam someone for no reason. For example, I tell a story in my show about Benita from Play School. And I go to town on her but she's very justified. Because she wronged me when I was 11 so it's payback. I talk a lot about trolls and people who are attacking me so if you're gonna attack me then I'm definitely gonna come back at you. My online hater Darren definitely gets a big serving in this show.
Joel on TV's A League of Their Own (01.44):
Joan Rivers is “- - - - ing brilliant”. And she says the same thing about you!
She's amazing. It's crazy.
What's she like?
Oh, lovely. I wasn't sure what to expect but she's a lovely older lady who's great at what she does. Very sweet and very down to earth. And a powerhouse on stage. I remember watching her on stage and she just is The Master. And it really shows that she’s been in the industry forever. Her stagecraft and everything she does is so finely honed. Watching her work is a religious experience.
With all the plastic surgery she admits to she looks like your twin!
[Laughs] She looks fantastic. Before I met her I was thinking “Wow, what’s she gonna look like in person?! Oh, it'll be terrifying”. That was my mindset. But clearly she's had the best possible work because I think she looks great in person. She's just a lovely lady who happens to look a bit shinier than everyone else.
She also has a very rich vein of humanity hiding behind her cutting wit.
Oh, absolutely. I mean, I worked with her and she donated all the money from ticket sales to charity and then her management was telling me when I was there in New York that she goes to see every show, whether it's 120 bucks a seat in a 1000-seat theatre or a 20-seat theatre at 20 bucks a seat, she’ll go and see every single show that opens on Broadway. I just think that’s so awesome. And she does that after going on the road herself. What a great supporter! I love that.
How do readers get your selfie?
Just send me some hatemail with a post-paid envelope and I'll get Mum to package it up and send it off. ❏
Joel Creasy Rock God tour dates
Sydney: April 30, May 1-3, May 6-10 Harold Park Hotel, Glebe – sydneycomedyfest.com.au or comedyfestival.com.au or 02 9020 6966
Perth: June 27 Astor Theatre, Mount Lawley – showticketing.com.au/events/music/joel-creasey-rock-god or liveattheastor.com.au/events/music/joel-creasey-rock-god or 08 9370 1777
■ Joel Creasey on IMDb.
■ Read Ian's other interviews:
Kiri Te Kanawa for 70th birthday tour – From Downton Abbey to our Opera House, Kiri is just one of the dames
Boy George for King of Everything – King George, the Boy grows up
Danny Trejo for Machete Kills – 'I got Gaga her movie role with Gloria and me!'
Review of Privates on Parade – Parading your Privates
Review of Twists and Turns cabaret – Matthew Mitcham drops his dacks
Simon Vowles for Queens of the Outback – A frock and a rock hit town!
Nick Atkins for A Boy & A Bean – Jack, the giant killer
Matthew Mitcham for Twists and Turns cabaret – Matthew – all singing, all talking, all dancing!
Debbie Reynolds for Behind the Candelabra – What a glorious feelin’, I’m workin’ again
Lily Tomlin for Web Therapy – Lily caught in Phoebe's web!
Todd McKenney for Grease – Todd’s got chills, they’re multiplyin’
Matthew Rhys for The Scapegoat – Seeing double – and the Walkers' wine was real!
Casey Donovan for Mama Cass tribute – Casey has found her own idol
Amanda Muggleton for The Book Club – A book club for those who'd rather laugh than read!
Rachel Griffiths for Magazine Wars – We owe a big debt to Ita and Dulcie
Simon Burke for Mrs Warren’s Profession – A timeless take on the oldest profession
Ellen's mum, Betty DeGeneres on marriage equality – Not supporting gay marriage is bullying
Amanda Muggleton for Torch Song Trilogy – Amanda returns to the spotlight
Matthew Mitcham for Twists and Turns book – He couldn't believe it would last – it didn't